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Report: 62M people have little or no access to primary care

BY Antoinette Alexander

BETHESDA, Md. — Even as millions of Americans gain access to insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, there are an estimated 62 million people who remain without access to a primary heath care physician, according to a report by the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Why? A shortage of such physicians.
 
According to the report, entitled “Access Is the Answer,” 43% of U.S. residents are low-income and 28% live in rural areas, and 38% are racial/ethnic minorities. The vast majority of these medically disenfranchised Americans actually have insurance coverage (22% rely on Medicaid and 58% have other insurance).

The report comes as mandatory funding to expand the reach of care through community health centers nears expiration. After that, health centers may face a 70% reduction in funding, in addition to potentially more cuts in the discretionary funds that Congress determines every year, the NACHC stated.  Such a reduction in funding would force health centers to close sites, lay off staff and reduce services at a time when demand for care is already climbing. Health center advocates, who are meeting in Washington this week for a national conference, are calling on the President and bipartisan members of Congress to fix the so called “primary care cliff” and continue mandatory health center funding for another five years, enabling health centers to grow to reach 35 million patients by 2020.

“It is important to note that insurance coverage is only one piece of the equation when it comes to access to health care,” stated Dan Hawkins, SVP for policy and research at NACHC.  “Even as Americans in every state gain coverage, this report makes clear that too many remain without access to vital primary care services. Access is the answer to what ails our health care system, and health centers stand ready to provide that access in communities across the nation.”

Federal support of health centers leads to greater cost savings across the health care delivery system, and researchers have also found lower utilization of hospital emergency rooms in areas served by a health center.

Health centers save $1,263 per patient per year because patients have access to timely and appropriate care for their health care needs. Given the expected upsurge in demand for care, and the cost-savings of up to $24 billion a year that health centers generate, the report argues that federal investment in health centers, as well as adequate reimbursement for services by third-party payers, must continue for health reform to succeed.

 

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Peeps brand gets the party started with latest confection

BY Ryan Chavis

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Peeps, a brand from Just Born Quality Confections, announced a variety of offerings for Easter 2014, which includes the new Peeps Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow Chicks — vanilla cake-flavored marshmallow chicks decked out with rainbow confetti.

Other offerings for Easter 2014 include:

  • Peeps Marshmallow Chicks and Bunnies in six colors (yellow, pink, blue, lavender, green and orange) and varying package sizes;
  • Peeps 3-ct. Chocolate Dipped Marshmallow Chicks, which are available in milk or dark chocolate flavors;
  • Peeps Marshmallow Chick in a Hollow Milk Chocolate Egg;
  • Peeps Peepsters, which offer a bite-sized combination of chocolate and marshmallow-flavored crème;
  • Peeps 3-ct. Sugar-Free Marshmallow Chicks;
  • Peeps 4-ct. Rainbow Pops;
  • Peeps 1-ct. and 3-ct. Large Marshmallow Bunny; and
  • Peeps 1-ct. Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Chicks in either dark or milk chocolate.

“For decades our fans have looked forward to finding our wide variety of products poking out of their Easter baskets, and we continue to provide the classic Peeps they have come to love plus exciting new additions like Peeps Party Cake Chicks which are sure to become favorites,” said Mark Hoffman, senior brand manager for Peeps. “Each year we are excited to see how our fans express their Peepsonality and get creative with our products through recipes, crafts, and as a part of Easter traditions and festivities.”

 

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Study to explore heart-health benefits of cocoa flavanols

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the National Institutes of Health and Mars, Inc. plan to partner on the largest research trial to date that will investigate the heart-health benefits of cocoa flavanols and multivitamins, the groups announced Monday. 

"Cocoa flavanols and multivitamins are two of the most promising and exciting nutritional interventions available, and this new randomized trial is the natural next step in advancing our understanding of their potential benefits," stated JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of Preventive Medicine at BWH. "In smaller studies, cocoa flavanols have been linked to improvements in intermediate risk factors for heart disease, such as reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improvements in the body’s sensitivity to insulin and improved ability of blood vessels to dilate." 

The large-scale, prospective nutritional intervention will evaluate the role of flavanols in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease. The study will also explore the effect of a daily multivitamin as compared to placebo, as a follow up to previous research conducted only in men, which suggested that multivitamins may lower the risk of cancer. 

This five-year study of 18,000 men and women nation-wide will also be the first large-scale randomized trial testing multivitamins in women.

Manson will co-lead the trial with Howard Sesso, ScD, MPH, also in the division of Preventive Medicine at BWH.

"For multivitamins, the exact mechanisms leading to lower risks of cancer remain unclear, but could be due to individual and joint effects of more than 20 vitamins and minerals," commented Sesso, who is also in the division of Preventive Medicine at BWH and co-leader of the study. "This supplement has shown favorable results in research to date, but the proposed randomized trial is needed to provide conclusive evidence." 

Recruitment of women will be done through the large nationwide Women’s Health Initiative and men will be recruited from other large population-based studies. This trial substantially increases the number of women included in randomized trials of interventions for prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, areas where inclusion of women has lagged. The recruitment process is slated to begin in fall 2014 and continue into 2015.

Mars, Inc. will provide financial infrastructure support, together with the Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of NIH, as well as the cocoa flavanol-containing capsules for use in this study. 

"This collaboration represents the best of a public-private partnership in the interest of advancing science and public health. It’s exciting to be at this turning point in scientific discovery where we have the potential to achieve benefits for some of our most significant health challenges today," noted Harold Schmitz, chief science officer at Mars, Inc.

The partnership between academic hospitals, NIH and industry is expected to yield answers by 2019. 

 

 

 

 

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